“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16
Have you ever heard of a criterium race? Until a few years ago, I sure hadn’t! A criterium or “crit” is a bicycle race that consists of several laps around a closed circuit, with the length of each lap typically ranging from one to two kilometers. Since they’re relatively short in bike race terms, crit races can be quite intense and are always fast!
My husband Taylor loves to participate in these races, and one of our favorite weekends of the year is when Oklahoma City hosts the Pro-Am classic, a three-day event that welcomes both amateur riders and elite cyclists. Last year, we invited several of our friends to join me in watching Taylor compete in his first race on Friday evening. He was excited to get to have a larger cheering section than normal (since it’s usually just me and my cowbell), and I was excited to get to share all of my recently garnered knowledge of crit racing with our friends.
As the race got going, I could tell that Taylor was feeling good. He stayed consistent within the pack, usually among the first ten riders to cross the line that signified the end of one lap and the start of another. Since this race took place in Midtown, we could only see the riders for a few seconds at a time before the nearby buildings blocked our view.
With just over one lap to go, I heard cheering around the corner from where we stood, which told me that the riders were getting ready to come into view. As they rounded the corner, Taylor was in the lead! I watched him glance over his shoulder to see if anyone was coming up behind him, put his head down and pedal with all his might, and immediately my heart sank. Our friends were cheering and clapping; they were so thrilled to see him maintain his lead. As I cringed and shook my head, one of Taylor’s friends asked me what was wrong. In that moment, Taylor realized what I already knew—there was still one lap to go.
Since he’d just used the last of his energy to sprint to what he thought was the finish, Taylor began to slow his legs and let other riders pass by him. He did still finish the race, but sadly his position was not nearly what it had been just moments before.
Have you ever experienced that kind of gut-wrenching disappointment? Maybe a time where you thought you had everything figured out until something came along, pulled the rug out from under you and shattered your confidence? The truth is no racer finishes in first place every time. Disappointment and failure hurt, but it is in those times that we can turn to God and find strength and grace to support us in our weakness.
Morgan Jones, Director of Small Group Ministries